Johann Sebastian Bach, Rene Jacobs - Matthaus Passion

Published Thursday 27th March 2014
Johann Sebastian Bach, Rene Jacobs - Matthaus Passion
Johann Sebastian Bach, Rene Jacobs - Matthaus Passion

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMC90215657

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

A brief word of clarification before we roll out the superlatives. This release is available in two formats: a set of two SACDs with bonus DVD which reviews suggest is well worth hearing. I have the more basic two CD set. Any new recording of anything by Bach will have plenty of existing releases with which to be compared and there are some giants that have gone before Rene Jacobs when it comes to interpreting Bach's masterpiece. Jacobs has somewhat of a reputation for his idiosyncratic approaches to Mozart. To coin a phrase he is Marmite man: either you love him or hate him. However, he is much more restrained on this recording and one can only admire the attention to detail and sheer passion that has gone in to this. The Akademie fur Alte Musik-Berlin play well without ever attempting to take over; this is a choral work after all. The RIAS Kammerchor are equally good and the soloists are excellent. The Evangelist has a vital role and tenor Werner Gura does not disappoint but the star, for want of a better description, has to be Jesus, here portrayed most movingly by bass Johannes Weisser. Truly there are no weak links and if you have yet to experience the awe and joy of a Bach Passion this is an excellent place to start. Even those readers who already own a Matthaus-Passion or two should consider investigating this one.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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